A retail mystery is developing along Third Avenue between 85th and 86th Streets following the sudden exodus of a Nine West and Easy Spirit on the western side of the block.
The block is also home to a branch of HSBC bank. A teller there said Thursday that the bank is not closing and is actually expanding, but not into the former Nine West or Easy Spirit spaces.
Construction noises were heard behind a blue partition at the HSBC bank branch last week, and the teller added that the bank is actually expanding into retail space to the west.
Easy Spirit sells women’s footwear and Nine West is a women’s footwear and accessories store.
A sign in the window of the now-vacant Easy Spirit directed customers to their Queens Center location. “After many years of service, this Easy Spirit location is permanently closed,” read the sign.
A woman who answered the phone at their Queens location said she did not know what was replacing their former Upper East Side storefront.
The retail block is connected to a large residential condo building with an address of 185 East 85th St. The block is lined with halal and handbag vendors, and sits close to the Lexington Avenue subway station at 86th Street.
A doorman at the condo building said he doesn’t know much about the work, but that the storefronts aren’t being replaced with a new building.
“They’re not getting rid of the building because it’s attached to [185 East 85th Street],” said doorman Elvis Mujaj.
A resident of 185 East 85th St., who was picking a copy of Our Town out of a newspaper box in front of the building, said she doesn’t know what’s going into the storefronts either.
“I wonder what we’re getting,” Julie Hayes said. “The sign at Easy Spirit said go to Queens, they used to have a million stores in Manhattan, maybe they’re going out of business.”
Calls and emails to the building’s management company, Charles H. Greenthal and Co., went unreturned. Work permit applications filed by Greenthal in December and January with the Department of Buildings indicate plumbing, structural and interior work in excess of $500,000.
Greenthal is listed as the building’s owner on DOB records.
Staff in Councilman Ben Kallos’ office said they did not know the nature of the work going on at the building. “Apparently the businesses got out in the past week or two,” said Kallos’ chief of staff, Jesse Towsen, who is seeking more information. A call to the Carnegie Hill Neighbors, an Upper East Side BID which covers territory nearby, went unreturned.
Do you know what’s going on at 185 East 85th Street? Email Daniel.Fitzsimmons@StrausNews.com.